In October the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) reported on the desperate plight of hippos in the Virunga National Park, on the border between Rwanda and The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In a two week period, an estimated 400 hippos had been slaughtered by the Mai Mai, a Congolese rebel militia group. The animals are killed for their meat and for the ivory from their tusks. A recent survey sponsored by ZSL reported fewer than 900 remaining hippos in the park, a huge decline from the 22,000 recorded there in 1988. If the killing continues at its present rate, it is feared that hippos will be extinct in the region by the end of this year.http://sundial.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2410757,00.html
The United Nations Security Council established MONUC (United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) to enforce the 1999 Lusaka Accord. With a budget exceeding $1 bn, it is the UN's largest and most expensive peacekeeping mission.More information about MONUC
UNESCO has alerted the Congolese authorities and MONUC on the worrying situation of the hippopotamus populations of Virunga National Park. As a result, UN peacekeepers based in North Kivu agreed to carry out a number of anti-poaching patrols to help reduce the devastating poaching epidemic that has broken out in the World Heritage properties. Without this UN help, the local game wardens are ill-equiped to fight the poachers. More than 100 guards in Virunga have been killed since 1996 while trying to prevent poaching, and one was killed as recently as this May. The guards were being paid only about 55p per month, although this has increased to about £15 per month with funds from UNESCO.
ZSL have launched an appeal to raise desperately need funds to support anti-poaching activities. Your money could buy any of the following items:
Or 15 pence will buy you a kilo of black market hippo meat. A bargain.To find out more about the hippos' desperate plight and to make a donation, click here.
- Food for a patrol ranger for a day: £1
- Army issue water bottle: £3
- Sleeping mat: £8
- Jungle boots for ranger: £15
- Waterproof patrol shelter: £20
- Patrol medical kits: £25
- Waterproof jacket: £30
- Full ranger uniform (trousers, shirt, beret): £35
- Patrol bicycle: £50
- Medical training course: £250